FCC Affirms Strict Adherence to E-rate Invoice Deadlines

All E-rate participants, including both service providers and program applicants, must be sure to adhere to the Universal Service Administrative Company’s (USAC) deadlines for invoicing for E-rate funds or run the risk of not being paid for services rendered. E-rate invoices typically are due to USAC 120 days after the last date of service, or 120 days after the date of the FCC Form 486 letter, whichever is later. For most recurring services delivered in an E-rate funding year, the last date of service is June 30, making the invoice deadline October 28. If an invoice deadline is approaching, and in danger of being missed, companies can request a single, 120-day extension from USAC prior to deadline.

This reminder comes after an FCC Order late last month that denied requests filed by 121 applicants for funding year 2014 invoice deadline extensions. The Commission’s decision was unexpected after many years of invoice extensions being easily granted, usually with little to no support provided. The FCC codified E-rate invoice deadlines in the recent E-rate modernization orders, however, it was unclear until now how the FCC would rule on invoice extension requests. This recent decision puts all E-rate participants on notice that they are responsible for knowing and complying with the rules. The FCC made clear that waivers would only be justified for cases with “extraordinary circumstances,” which include none of the following:

  • Employee turnover, confusion, or lack of understanding of E-rate rules;
  • Failure of service providers to approve Billed Entity Applicant Reimbursement (BEAR) invoices by the deadline;
  • Post-submission postmarking delays by the postal service or third-party couriers; or
  • Medical procedures or other family emergencies (of applicant staff or consultants).

The FCC also clarified that absent an extension request submitted to USAC before a deadline is missed, a waiver will not be granted. None of the 121 affected applicants had requested the available 120-day invoice extension from USAC prior to missing their invoicing deadline.

If your company or one of your schools was impacted by the Order, and you would like to discuss options, please contact Dee Dee Longenecker in JSI’s Texas office at 512-338-0473.

Source: JSI e-Lert